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As the winter winds blow and the snow falls, homeowners across Ohio are cranking up the thermostats. While nothing gives us more joy than knowing that our customers are warm and cozy in their homes enjoying top notch heating systems provided by A & L Heating & Cooling, we also want to make sure that they are safe as well. “Safe from what?” you might ask. Safe from an unnoticeable threat that could be present in your home at this very moment.

Now, we don’t want to scare you by any means, but we do want to inform you. So, let’s talk about Carbon Monoxide in your home. Carbon Monoxide, or CO as it’s often abbreviated, is an odorless and colorless gas that can lead to sudden illness and death. CO is found in the combustion of fumes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuels like gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal are burned.

The most common producers of CO are car and trucks, stoves, gas ranges, lanterns, wood burning fireplaces, and most heating systems. It’s the build up of the CO in enclosed spaces that leads to trouble. When people and animals breathe in the CO that is accumulated in enclosed spaces they can be poisoned by it. A properly maintained fuel burning appliance will produce some CO, but such small amounts are usually not hazardous to an individual’s health.

Even though you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, large amounts of CO can cause a person to lose consciousness and suffocate within minutes, according to OSHA. How is carbon monoxide harmful to the human body? Well, without going into a bunch of scientific details, it’s easiest to say that CO shifts around the oxygen surrounding our red blood cells. When these bits of oxygen are moved or attacked by the carbon monoxide molecules it ends up depriving the brain and heart, among other vital organs, of the much needed oxygen. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that hundreds of people die accidently each year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning fuel burning appliances.

CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose. Unfortunately, many people who have been poisoned by carbon monoxide confuse its symptoms for the flu. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, chest pain, fatigue, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation will eventually cause loss of consciousness in the victim and shortly after, death. The real danger is present for those victims who inhale the CO either while sleeping or being intoxicated. They can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing any symptoms.

To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home try a few of our safety tips below:

  • A homeowner should have their heating system and any other gas or oil burning appliances inspected and serviced by a HVAC professional like A & L Heating & Cooling, or other qualified technician. This includes your water heater as well.
  • Never use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. They can cause CO to build up inside the home.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It’s recommended that one be installed in every sleeping area. Remember to change or replace the batteries, if battery operated, when you change the time on your clocks each fall and spring.
  • If you have a fireplace in your home, have your chimney checked and cleaned every year. Debris can block chimneys causing CO to build up inside the home. Never burn anything inside the fireplace without proper ventilation.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or barbecuing grill indoors.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors.
  • Never use a generator indoors or place one near doors, windows, or vents where the CO could leak into the house.
  • Never run your vehicle in a garage with the garage door shut.
  • Do not use your gas oven to heat your home, even for a short period of time

If you or someone you know could be suffering from CO poisoning get out into fresh air immediately and go to an emergency room ASAP! To ensure the safety of the occupants in your home, have your heating and cooling systems inspected and serviced annually by the competent HVAC technicians at A & L Heating & Cooling.